Pond 20- Simple Clarity/simple direction for the South Bay of San Diego

Making Bait on the Dikes...South Bay San Diego
Making Bait on the Dikes...South Bay San Diego
Most of the time I meet people walking by the my garden which adjoins the IB slough.  Its great and rarely do we talk of politics.  However there comes a time when we must use our God given right for free speech. So here goes....I have spent the last 40-50 years fishing, swimming, camping, and playing in the South San Diego Bay. This is a wonderful place, the best place on earth.  I have lived in North County...you can have it...too many cars and the quality of life does not compare to the South Bay.

Many local citizens of the south bay are not aware current status of the 95 acres at the corner of 13 Street and Palm Avenue.  In 1998 with little public notice the south bay communities of Chula Vista, South San Diego, Nestor, and Imperial Beach through their elected officials and the Port District gave away 722 acres of south San Diego Bay to environmental concerns for the right to expand the airport at Lindberg Field.  At that time they wisely set aside 95 acres for future public development at the corner of 13th street and Palm Avenue. The Port is now asking the public for its input into how this land is to be used for the public good of the communities of the South San Diego Bay. To give you an idea of how big this place is the Charger parking lot is 114 acres.  This area is large.  In my opinion the project breaks down as follows:

Most of the public does not know that there are two groups are vying for this land.  

The first group is local professionals and residents who want the land to be used for public parks or outside facilities such as fishing, horseback riding, camping, bird watching, bicycle race track, baseball/soccer fields or to access the south bay via paddle boarding/ kayaking facilities, university site for research on water quality. This group wants to develop the land in the same way that San Diego and Coronado have developed their respective water fronts. To do so in an environmentally sensitive way to enhance the use of property for both the environment and the public.  These citizens feel that too much land has been traded away from the south San Diego Bay to the benefit of the north San Diego.  The local feeling is "The Big Bay”-For Big Pockets".  Most local citizens feel and it can be argued that spending and land use benefit only the north end of the bay and the south bay communities get nothing. As said by many " we get our land traded away, and the City of San Diego gets the projects and jobs, we get nothing” It is not too hard to see this in the morning commute on the freeway.  All the cars are headed north/ no cars heading south. 

The second group represents the environmentalist and the developers.  At first glance these groups seem opposed to each other, but in fact they are not.  These groups want Pond 20 to be traded into a Land Mitigation Bank. If the Pond 20 land goes into a Mitigation Land Bank then public discussion ends and public use of the land ends.  Then the developers sit down with the environmentalist and decide behind closed doors and decide the fate of public lands without public over site.  More importantly the south bay communities get nothing in return.  For example say a group wants to expand the convention center at a cost of $500 million.  The project sits on the bay front.  This group goes through all the proper permit process and then stops by the land mitigation bank and buys up sensitive land credits.  The end results are follows and this list is not complete. 

1)    South Bay communities get public land taken away for the benefit of others, who are not public representatives.

2)    We lose rights of access ….we can’t even touch the water and have no access.

3)    Taxes created in the south bay are spent on the north end of bay communities.

4)    Jobs are created in the north end of the bay and lost on the south end of the bay

Please email all of your elected officials and the San Diego Port District and tell them I DO NOT WANT POND 20 TO BE TURNED OVER TO LAND MITIGATION BANKING.  Listed below you will find the links to your City, State, Federal officials.

Port of San Diego                             pond20@portofsandiego.org

Mayor City of San Diego                   toddgloria@sandiego.gov

List of elected officials                   http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/voters/Eng/reports/pubofficials.pdf


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jon Hall January 12, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Funny how a person who lives next to the sloughs was OK with it becoming a wildlife preserve yet wants the area by my home to be developed for his economic benefit --- well Leon, no thanks --- Imperial Beach had a chance to make something of their sloughs --- but instead you allowed *out of town* interests to take it away forever --- now you think it is your right to tell those of us who live directly across the street in San Diego (yep, all the property is in San Diego) what to do with our land ...
Dante Pamintuan January 12, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Hi Jon. What would be your idea for Pond 20? The Best is before us.
chris kelly January 12, 2014 at 02:16 PM
I live in South Bay, have since 1965, walk and ride the bike paths and would love to see it be used for the enjoyment of all our residents down in the South Bay. I'm all about exercise and anything that gets our kids and grandkids hearts pumping in the fresh air is something I want. Biking, kayaking, running, walking, any sport you can think of. Our kids are getting fat! I'd love to be able to take the tent and camp down there with the granddaughter. And sadly, one of my husbands most used comment when he talks about South bay is "we get nothing down here". Please do not leave it to others who have no interest other then $$$ to make a decision about what happens in this area.
Jon Hall January 13, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Dante --- what I would love to see will never happen because the same eco-terrorists who took the sloughs will ultimately win out here ------ what I think needs to happen is simple --- remove the old railroad dike and open the pond back up --- remember, it wasn't nature that made the salt ponds ------ unfortunately, doing that doesn't return the land back to the *proper natural condition* (the one envisioned by humans) --- but wouldn't it be neat to have direct access to the bay --- and all the economic benefits that come with it ...
Serge Dedina January 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM
Hi Jon: Let's try to have a discussion in Imperial Beach without name calling and denigrating your neighbors. I believe that we can discuss issues without insulting people. Those of who love the Tijuana Estuary and South San Diego Bay can find a way to work together to increase public access, the restoration of our natural beauty and increase recreational opportunities for the residents of the region. We'll be working to eliminate the ugly chain link fences and chunks of concrete around the Bay. Looking forward to having you involved!! Cheers, Serge
John Holder January 13, 2014 at 01:53 PM
I grew up near Pond 20 and currently work with stakeholders in the region to improve access to South San Diego nature based recreation areas (OVRP, Bayshore Bikeway...etc.) and engage community members in stewardship and beautification events. The South San Diego Bay shoreline is one of the most important and beautiful network of conservation areas in the state and Pond 20 can be a part of this through restoration and beautification. We have input from over 600 community members who live in the area that would like to see the area restored and be used for conservation and nature based recreation. They key to what happens on Pond 20 is community input and transparent decision making. We have been working on a 'Scenic South Bay Vision' with other stakeholders in the region. It is a comprehensive framework that calls for beautification, conservation and increased public access in the South San Diego Bay, starting with Pond 20. Below is a link that explains more. Looking forward to discussing this more with you and hope you can be involved! Cheers! http://thewildcoastblog.com/2013/12/05/conservation-through-beautification-in-south-san-diego/
Roger Alan Benham January 13, 2014 at 06:47 PM
Jon: My brother and I were in our early teens when the channel and marina concept for the sloughs was scraped. We need to look forward, not back. It’s not about us, it’s about the kids and young families that will inherit our decisions. I understand it is your style to lash out, but I believe you and Leon actually want the same thing for Pond 20, namely, that it be used to build our area’s economic and social status, and not turned over to the land bankers (wetlands restoration) to mitigate rich people’s development ambitions to the North. I am asking you again to look at the updated proposals and drawings at www.pchdinnershow.com . These are homegrown concepts and would greatly enhance the area in many respects.
Roger Alan Benham January 13, 2014 at 06:47 PM
Serge: I did not see where Jon was name calling or denigrating his neighbors or insulting anyone. I believe your language is more divisive because you imply that we who want economic development of Pond 20 are not part of those who “love the TJ Estuary and South San Diego Bay”. Not only do we love it, but we paid for it with our tax dollars. I tell you what, when the public recognizes that your coalition of Land Bankers is selling away our children’s future for economic prosperity to the North, we will invite you to join us to help us tear down the fences, remove debris, and other tasks necessary to grow our community. Looking forward to having you involved. Sincerely, Roger Alan Benham
Roger Alan Benham January 13, 2014 at 06:52 PM
John: I think it is very important that you disclose that you are associated with a group that is bidding on the land mitigation business for Pond 20, the William Hall Mitigation Stakeholder Team, see http://www.portofsandiego.org/pond-20/letters-of-interest.html. This document shows that your intentions are to use Pond 20, not to increase wildlife habitat, but to offset encroachment by your developer friends, namely, Sunroad, BAE, and Hornblower. Please stop taking credit for the bike path and all the good things we have done in the South Bay. You did not do this, hard work by a lot of people and our tax dollars are responsible. The economic development of Pond 20 will have at least 10 times the environmental and recreational benefits of your single-minded agenda, and 1000’s of time more the economic impact for our local economy. For options on Pond 20 please see www.pchdinnershow.com.
Pop Quiz January 13, 2014 at 11:10 PM
How about a boat ramp and parking lot somewhere? I have no hard opinion about pond 20. maybe a brine shrimp farm? It seems like we have done a lot of mitigation for other cities. But then again pond 20 development may mean the IB city council wasting more money on the investors dreams and less on the residents needs. Mmmm tough nut....
Pop Quiz January 13, 2014 at 11:20 PM
I think the use of pond 20 as mitigation (ideas or concepts) might have got a better reception overall if they let more people kayak or canoe in the sloughs. People are into that stuff. I'm not. Just a thought ....recreation.
Pop Quiz January 13, 2014 at 11:52 PM
Roger that is a very interesting bunch of information in the "Stakeholder" link. Obviously there is a whole bunch of money in that group. None of it i recognize from IB. I think Serge and Doc McCoy may believe in their ideals. The sloughs and strand are evidence of their work. Are the rest of them are using IB to achieve their financial goals? It seems like maybe by stepping on our residents collective backs? Has there been any research on real dollar Ecological tourism benefits in IB? I live by the sloughs and it is blissfully empty of tourists of any kind. Anecdotal evidence would say no economic benefits. Why don't the other cities accept mitigation for our development? I am not convinced we need to develop pond 20, but it sure is interesting to see the players and juxtapose their motives and our futures. Who and why....
Jacki F January 14, 2014 at 12:14 AM
Hey guys, Why is Leon asking us to think developers and preservationists are in the same boat? Mitigation banking Pond 20 doesn't mean we develop it and allow another parcel to be preserved. It's just the opposite. What IS his interest here?
Jon Hall January 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Serge --- our views will never be the same --- you applauded the closure of what should have been a major driver of economic prosperity for a beach community because it fits your agenda --- and although I disagree I respect your decision --- but now there is an opportunity to re-define the area directly across the street from my property --- and what is done here will determine the future value of my property --- so if lashing out is what it takes to stop the eco-terrorists from taking this area too then so be it --- *official Imperial Beach residents* had their chance to make something of the sloughs --- instead you choose to give it away forever ------ oh, and as for our fence and concrete surrounding the vacant land on Highway 75 --- you really want to go there ???
Jon Hall January 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM
Roger --- we will never agree either --- quite frankly I would rather see the area become a bird sanctuary rather than be filled & built on --- luckily there are alternatives that require neither to be done --- and I am not necessarily talking about what is currently being discussed --- it will be interesting to see what happens when this goes beyond the talking stage ...
Serge Dedina January 14, 2014 at 11:53 AM
Hi Jon--let's agree that calling people you don't agree with as "terrorists" is probably not the best way to engage in a productive discussion. I would hope everyone can join us when we organize the first effort at removing ugly chain link fences from the IB Bayfront. Roger and Leon--I would strongly urge you to meet with David Alvarez, since Pond 20 is located in the City of San Diego. And Roger thanks for your past financial support of WILDCOAST--I enjoyed eating pasta at your mom's house and sharing stories about IB. Hopefully we can surf together soon!! Cheers, Serge
Roger Alan Benham January 14, 2014 at 04:55 PM
Serge: I don’t mean to sound petty, but your repetitious spin draws it out of me. First, one time I gave Wildcoast $100 to insert an advertisement for my Rizzio food product during a surf contest. Please stop proclaiming my “past financial support of Wildcoast”, it was just an ad. Considering my family’s background do you really think you need to remind us that Pond 20 is in San Diego -really? Of course we have exchanged information with David Alvarez’s office. And for the record, I invited you to my Mom’s house for pasta once, one time. While there you promised that you would show up for our food promotion during the Sandcastles, and you did not show. Since Pond 20 will be the most significant decision in the history of the IB Area, I ask that you just stick to the issue at hand. Sincerely, Roger Alan Benham
Roger Alan Benham January 14, 2014 at 04:57 PM
Jacki: I think you need to do a little homework and loose the naivety. “Mitigation” means exactly that – the developer pays for Pond 20 to be preserved to allow for their development on sensitive lands to the North. Of course in the end, the public pays for Pond 20 to be preserved through taxation and business fees that are passed to the consumer. In this case, the developers and the preservationists are absolutely in the same boat, please see William Hall Mitigation Stakeholder Team at http://www.portofsandiego.org/pond-20/letters-of-interest.html , showing how WIldcoast and SWIA are in bed with Sunroad, BAE, Hornblower, and others. Leon’s motives are what he sees as the best interest of his hometown community that he loves dearly. Sorry if this offends you, but this Pond 20 issue is seriously important to the future of our community.
Roger Alan Benham January 14, 2014 at 05:09 PM
Jon: I'm sad that we will never agree. When you wrote that you would like to see the dike taken down, and Pond 20 restored with water, like we remember it was in the 60s and 70s, I thought we had a common ground. I thought maybe your comment about the puritanical *proper natural condition* delusions would draw you to the concepts shown in the pchdinnershow.com illustrations showing the water and the IB Rowing Club. Yea, let's see when the talking stops....
Roger Alan Benham January 14, 2014 at 05:34 PM
Dear Pop Quiz: I appreciate your comments. The IB Area has notoriously been deprived of economic prosperity. When I was a boy the Silver Strand was "County" property. How did it occur that Coronado annexed the whole peninsula? If you look at the boundary to IB Proper, it is set back just far enough to deprive the City of any economic benefit of the I5 Corridor. Eco-tourism sounds catchy, but analysis will show it's and economic bust. IMO Pond 20 will prove to be the most significant decision in our history, success or nail-in-the-coffin to economic prosperity. These stories and many more can be found in my writings at www.DowntownIB.com and www.pchDinnershow.com.
Serge Dedina January 14, 2014 at 07:00 PM
Yoo Roger for the clarification--you win. You certainly put me in my place!!! I almost felt like I was hanging out with you again at the Surfer Bench at Mar Vista when we all used to trade insults all the time. Hope to see you soon!! Cheers, Serge
Pop Quiz January 14, 2014 at 07:16 PM
Thanks Roger. Like i said i am not committed to either idea yet. I love IB and want the best for the residents. I do enjoy the information and history.When it sat for years with the trash trucks welcoming me home and the rotted chain link fence papered with trash i would wonder why no one seemed to gave a rats ass. I somewhat figured it was already given up to mitigation long ago. I think many locals also believe it was a done deal. Whatever the outcome, way too much flies under the radar in this town.
Jon Hall January 15, 2014 at 07:30 PM
Serge --- when I refer to organizations such as Wildcoast as eco-terrorists it is not name-calling --- it is simply stating the truth --- that organization, like other groups that like to hug things, is comprised by what appears to be a bunch that think *all things done by man* are wrong --- that the world must be returned to the *natural place it was* before the incursion of humans ------ except, of course, for themselves --- in fact, every time I see one of these groups in action they are in cars, using electronic communication devices, drinking Perrier from a plastic bottle, and obviously enjoying the lifestyle the *dirty humans* gave them ------ actually, if I was to *call your kind a name* it would be something that would get my mouth washed out with soap (bio-degradable of course) ...
Jon Hall January 15, 2014 at 07:33 PM
Oh, and another thing --- I also despise two-faced groups who are in it for personal gain --- Wildcoast supported the Sand Replenishment that destroyed the natural beach --- and supported that Monstrosity with the Massive Drain Pipe in the sand --- neither of which were good for the ocean, the fishes, or the mammals ...
Roger Alan Benham January 16, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Serge: No problem, I appreciate your understanding. Please keep in mind that over 95% of the population of the IB Area do not surf and may not feel comfortable hanging out at the Surfer Bench with the privileged few. Just a little tid-bit of advice for your mayoral run.
Roger Alan Benham January 16, 2014 at 04:18 PM
Dear Pop Quiz: You show great insight when you ask "Why don't the other cities accept mitigation for our development?". This relates to one of the worst fears for the IB Area. As pointed out in Leon's blog, 90% of Western Salt has been used to mitigate the Airport expansion, Liberty Station, etc, and who-knows how much of the TJ River has been used up by SWIA ($30 million+) and others. Someday the People of the IB Area will want to pursue economic development of land (Pond 20 for example) and be told “you can’t do that without equal land set aside for mitigation”. Then, we will look around and see that everything has been used to offset development to the North. That is when we will realize we’ve been dooped again. Please, let’s not let that happen.
Libi Uremovic January 16, 2014 at 06:52 PM
roger - the fact that serge surfs has nothing to do with his ability to honestly govern a city ....and you're the 1st person i've known to call surfers 'a privileged few'... anyone can learn to surf - the ocean is free to all .... ======================================= you idea for a theater is a private sector investment, not public sector ...
Libi Uremovic January 16, 2014 at 07:05 PM
'... I also despise two-faced groups who are in it for personal gain --- Wildcoast supported the Sand Replenishment that destroyed the natural beach ...' wildcoast didn't 'approve' the improper sand replenishment ... the sand replenishment was done improperly and at the wrong time of the year......there was no financial gain for wildcoast or serge.... the person that benefited financially was the ib mayor/vp of sandag, but you don't want to blame him because you support the corruption.... ======================================= '...'when I refer to organizations such as Wildcoast as eco-terrorists it is not name-calling --- it is simply stating the truth ...' no, it isn't 'the truth'....the truth is that you've been brainwashed to respond to code words like pavlov's dog so you no longer have the ability to process information and make rational choices..... ======================================= political parties use the same procedures as a cult - they brainwashed their followers with lies so they can't think for yourself....
Roger Alan Benham January 18, 2014 at 06:46 PM
Hello Libi: I appreciate your comment, but I’m afraid you missed the point. The metaphor was related to the “Surfer’s Bench”, not surfers. Yes, the PCH Dinner Show is absolutely a for-profit private enterprise, because this is exactly what the IB Area needs for the immediate and future prosperity of our community. Trust me, I know about surfers and the surfing business. The PCH Dinner Show concept is advanced thinking where we package our surfing and SoCal beach heritage into a world-class tourist venue. If we don’t do this not only will we lose an opportunity for a desperately needed booming private enterprise, but our heritage could be lost, e.g., there are not going to be any more Tim Townsleys, David Craigs, or Jay Novaks. Please read www.PCHDinnerShow.com.
Leon January 22, 2014 at 05:48 PM
To all who responded to the letter I posted "POND 20 Simple Clarity/ Simple Direction". After reading the comments I can see that almost everybody wants something good to come of Pond 20. The current fences that restrict our access while other parts of the bay enjoy the freedom to walk up to the waterline frustrate many of us. Others who have fought hard to protect our the bay want to make sure the water is clean and the wildlife is protected. Why can't we have BOTH access while protecting the environment. During the first public outreach meeting held in early 2013 by the Port local people spoke out with their concerns for public safety, public use and a variety of other issues. Dr. McCoy spoke out in support of a Kayak entrance point at the foot of 13th street. Since then no public dialog has taken place. If the Port of San Diego is unwilling to or cannot provide the venue for a public workshop then why don't we do it ourselves. I would be willing to host the event, provide large scale aerial photographs and moderate. In our county there are many, many great examples of public use areas that are within or very near sensitive lands. Certainly, using these examples we can create a place that reflects our values. It may be easy to sit and write things via email however I ask that we do the hard thing. Think of the great opportunity we have to create something. Lets create a crown jewel for the South Bay Communities. I DARE YOU.


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